Recipe: Persian style rice

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Prefer it served warm, but it is just as nice cold. Add some cooked chicken and make it a meal in one.

I first came across this rice dish travelling through South America.

We ended up camped in the grounds of a small motel, run by an Australian woman, who was married to an Iranian man. He ran this wonderful little restaurant in the motel, with the menu based on Persian cuisine.

This is a version of the fabulous rice dish he made. I hope you love it as much as I do. I prefer it served warm, but it is just as nice cold. Add some cooked chicken and make it a meal in one. It’s worth the effort.

For more tasty ideas, visit 4X4 Australia’s Bush Cooking recipes.


  • Large pinch saffron threads
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 80g butter (it must be butter for the flavour, margarine won’t work)
  • Zest from one orange
  • ½ cup raisins – roughly chopped
  • ½ cup diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • ¼ cup pistachio kernels – chopped
  • ¼ to ½ cup slivered or flaked almonds – toasted
  • ¼ cup pine nuts – toasted (optional)
  • 6 fresh dates – sliced (optional, I wouldn’t bother unless using fresh dates)
  • ½ to whole pomegranate – seeds only (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season


  • Combine the saffron and boiling water in a small bowl, stir and leave to infuse for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Put the rice into a bowl and pour over some boiling water (enough to cover) and stir. Then drain and rinse.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the rinsed rice, give it a stir and cook until just tender.
  • Drain and set aside. If you have the time, spread the cooked rice out in a large, shallow tray and put it in the fridge overnight to allow it to dry out a little before using the next day.
    Put half of the butter in a large frying pan and place on the heat; when the butter is foaming (but not burning) add the drained rice and the saffron along with the infused water and stir through thoroughly (the rice will become a gorgeous golden colour).
  • Keep stirring until the water is absorbed then turn the heat to low.
  • Add the rest of the butter and all of the remaining ingredients (except the dates, pomegranate, salt and pepper) to the pan and mix through until the ingredients are well distributed. Cover with a lid and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add the dates and pomegranate. Mix through and season to taste.


  • To get the pomegranate seeds from the fruit, cut the fruit in half, place one half fruit side down over the palm of your hand, fingers spread, and hold it over a dish and give the outer skin of the fruit a good ‘whack’ with a large wooden spoon, or something similar.
  • If the fruit is ripe, the seeds should drop out easily and fall through your fingers into the bowl. If any of the ‘white pithy inner flesh’ drops out with the fruit, remove it.
    You can also add 1 tsp sumac, ¼ cup of fresh coriander or some cooked chicken.

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